Health insurance is getting a bad rap: it’s complex, complicated, and if you ask nearly any health insurance shopper or user, it’s endlessly frustrating. On top of it all, health insurance has taken center stage in the media lately, making everyone all the more uncertain about the future of the health insurance offerings. That’s why we’re clearing the air to answer your frequently ask questions, like “How do I pick?” “What does it cost?” and “What is going on with Obamacare?”
Q: Do I still need, or can I still buy, insurance if Obamacare is partially repealed?
Let us elaborate: At this point in time, you must obtain health coverage for 2017. If you remain uncovered this upcoming year, you will face a hefty penalty 2.5% of your annual household income or $695 per adult (and $347.50 per child). What’s important now is to focus on getting insurance for 2017. Any changes that could happen would likely take a while to be enacted and any new legislation will likely include a buffer period to give enrollees time to find coverage elsewhere. It’s important to purchase insurance for 2017 before Open Enrollment ends on January 31st, and you still have the opportunity to potentially receive financial assistance from the government when doing so.
Q: Okay, so what should I purchase?
A: It depends.
We know that’s not the answer that you want to hear, but let us break it down for you. There is no superior or best plan, it’s about what your needs and your budget are. For example, if you pick a plan rich in health care benefits with a high monthly premium but are healthy, you are likely overpaying for health insurance. There are additional factors to consider that are very specific to your personal needs, including whether your doctor accepts the health plan or if the drugs you take are covered. Here are the top things you should consider when choosing a health plan.
Q: Well, to make sure I’m not overpaying, how much will a health plan cost me?
A: It depends.
We’re sorry to do that again to you, but it’s true! What you pay for health insurance can depend on where you live, your income, what you’re eligible for, who you are covering, and even your age or smoking status. If you are not eligible for health insurance programs like Medicaid or Medicare, take a look at these helpful hints to make sure you aren’t over paying. If your annual income is between 100% ($11,880) and 400% ($47,520) of the federal poverty line, you may be eligible for additional premium reductions in the form of an Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC).
Q: This still looks like a foreign language to me. How do I know what I’m buying?
A: Health literacy is perhaps the most widely cited reason for health insurance confusion and complexity.
There are two important parts to understand your insurance: (1) the definitions and terminology, and (2) knowing how to calculate the costs. You can find a helpful video here, which will help you answer questions like how much you are on the hook for if you have a $2,000 deductible, a $50 copay, or 20% coinsurance.
Q: I need help. Where can I get it?
A: The first step is acknowledging that you need help.
We’re kidding, but since you asked:
- You can get personalized assistance from a health insurance expert like a broker or navigator. Look for one here.
- Up your health literacy by referencing a health insurance glossary
- Find more helpful tips in Wellthie Founder and CEO Sally Poblete’s interview with BuzzFeed’s Casy Gueren.